Cleaning Up Exide, after Decades of Pollution and Misconduct

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For decades, there have been reports of toxic contamination from the Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon: leaks of toxic chemicals, including arsenic; emission of so much lead that children were warned not to play in their yards. Finally, after the threat of federal prosecution, Exide has been shut down — with promises of demolition and cleanup. That's not due to action by the State Department of Toxic Substances Control, which allowed Exide to operate without a permit for more than 20 years. It took the threat of federal criminal prosecution. Last year, Governor Brown vetoed a bill designed to reorganize the Department. The author was Democrat Kevin De León — who's now president pro tem of the State Senate.

We invited DTSE to participate. They declined our invitation but sent the following statement:

Our commitment is to protect the health of the community by ensuring that Exide properly and safely closes its Vernon facility and cleans up contamination in the surrounding neighborhoods. Last month, we began the process of denying the company's permit application and shutting down the facility. And we will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that Exide meets its obligations going forward.


Photo: Local organizations rally on February 5, 2015, demanding that California DTSE immediately shut down Exide Technologies. (© Sylvia Arredondo / Courtesy of Communities for a Better Environment)